It’s the key slide in the presentation. The one that precedes the creative. The one that sets up the creative. The one that will make the creative that follows a slam dunk. The heading on the slide says: Key Consumer Insight. And then, drumroll please, an insight is revealed that is not revealing. Nor inspiring. Nor insightful. (That’s a lot of nors for one slide.)

And guess what? The creative that follows is none of those things either. Ho hum. Seen it before. Where’s the gold nugget of human behavior mined by the agency that sparked a fresh, relevant, powerful idea? An idea that will connect with consumers on a deeper, emotional level.

Let’s rewind back from the presentation to the brief. If the insight isn’t there to begin with, it isn’t likely to be in the work. Well…then put on the brakes at the brief. Go back to the data. Whether it’s primary research. Secondary research. Tertiary research. (Is that a thing?)

Gathering data for a communications plan is like gathering nuts for winter. Eventually, you’ve got to split ‘em open and rip ‘em apart to get to the meat.

Not that this squirrel-like tenacity should fall entirely on strategists and planners.

Some of the best strategic thinkers I’ve had the honor of working with over the years have been writers and art directors. Makes sense when you think about it. Ultimately, it’s their job to transform strategy into words and images that will move consumers anyway.

So…all you writers and art directors out there, don’t sit around waiting for your brief to slide under the door. And don’t just whine if the insight is MIA. Jump in early and bat things around with your strategist. Talk to the analytics guys. You don’t have to be able to dissect a data visualization graph. They speak English.

And here’s something you should already be doing on your own. Scour through posts on your client’s social platforms. Listen to their competitors’ social platforms. Really listen. With a different set of ears than your strategist, you might just dig up an insight that could have remained buried. One you can bring to life in a genuine way that consumers will respond to with a head-nodding “Yep, that’s me.”

Partnering creatives with strategists in brief development is just one way to get to consumer insights that are more insightful. Whatever you do to get to that nugget of human behavior that will ring true and make a difference for your client’s business, you may want to begin by changing some human behavior in your shop.